Five inductees from racing’s historic era brings this year’s induction to 10 members
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (October 1, 2020) – The West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 is complete with the selection of five Heritage members, whose careers took place or began prior to 1972. Their selection brings to 10 the 2020 honorees who will be enshrined during this year’s induction ceremonies, presented by World Wide Technology Raceway, on June 3, 2021 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.
The induction will be combined with the Class of 2021, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting on 2021 nominees will begin in November.
The Heritage inductees are:
- Harry Belletto, a three-time Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway late model stock car champion credited with more than 500 feature, trophy dash and heat race wins at the quarter-mile paved oval. Belletto was drafted by the Oakland Raiders but a pre-season injury wrote the end of his NFL career. The 77-year-old Belletto, whose career began in 1970, resides in Modesto, Calif.
- Howard Kaeding, a three-time NASCAR State of California and San Jose (Calif.) Speedway supermodified champion. The 87-year-old, from Campbell, Calif., once won 17 main events in a row – all while starting last in 18 to 30 car fields. Kaeding, a pioneering racing speed shop operator, a Godfather to a three-generation racing family that includes son Brent, a 13-time Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) champion and World of Outlaws winner.
- Ken Miles, winner of the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona and Sebring 12 Hour and second-place finisher in the 24 of Le Mans. Chief test driver for Shelby American was a D-Day tank commander in the British Army. He relocated to Hollywood, Calif. following World War II. Miles also competed in NASCAR Cup Series race at Riverside International Raceway in 1963, driving a Holman-Moody Ford.
- Jim Pettit Sr., a Seaside, Calif. salvage yard operator whose love of grassroots racing touched many in the industry. He owned late model stock cars fielded by his son, Jim Pettit II, who won a NASCAR Pacific Coast Region title and a pair of NASCAR Elite championships. The pair will simultaneously be inducted in 2021 – the first time a father-son have been enshrined in the same class. Pettit passed in 2018 at age 77.
- Billy Wilkerson drove jalopies and modified cars in the 1950s and 1960, winning a California Jalopy Association title and numerous races on dirt and pavement. The San Gabriel Valley resident then excelled in sprint cars, winning California Racing Association championships in 1967 and 1970. After retirement, he teamed with West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Famer Dick Woodland to field entries for many top drivers including Parnelli Jones. Wilkerson, a member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, passed in 2009 at age 82.
“’When racing is no fun we will quit’ is a common remark made by thousands over the years in this great sport,” said Ken Clapp, West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame Chairman and CEO. “This is a fun heritage category induction class. I have had the honor to call each of the inductees a friend for many decades and, WOW, what a huge bunch of wins, records and unmeasurable talent.
“Every one of these men contributed to the greatness of the sport in a fun and dynamic way.”
The remainder of the organization’s 17th inducted class is comprised of Mike Bliss, a USAC Silver Crown and NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series champion; Craig Keough, a Las Vegas team owner and track sponsor; Rick Mears, a four-time Indianapolis 500 champion; Jim Pettit II, the 1984 NASCAR Pacific Coast Region champion and Jerry Pitts, ARCA Menards Series West championship crew chief and team owner Racing ambassador Linda Vaughn will receive the Motorsport Lady of the Century award during the ceremonies, highlights of which will be later broadcast by MAVTV.
About the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame:
The West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame was conceived in 2001 as a means of recognizing significant contributors and contributions to the sport of stock car racing. The mission of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is founded to preserve history and heritage of the important role west coast stock car competitors have played in the sport’s development and continuation and to recognize, through annual enshrinement, of outstanding individuals and groups within the sport such as, but not limited to, designers, engineers, mechanics, drivers, race track owners, promoters, publicists and members of the motorsports media.
For additional information about the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame, please visit WestCoastStockCarHallofFame.com.
Owen A. Kearns